Sometimes the very best ideas arrive when trying to solve the simplest problems.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve felt the desire to read, watch something or play a video game while lying down. Maybe you’ve got into bed a bit early or are just kicking back on the couch after dinner.
Either way, there’s only so long you can hold something up before your arms start to ache. This problem is so common, it’s actually got a name: Cell Phone Elbow.
Enter the Tstand 2, which is the kind of gadget that I usually scoff at as being nothing more than a one-trick pony.
That is, until I used it.
And I realised the trick it pulls off is honestly, genuinely, helpful.
It’s a ridiculously simple contraption: an adjustable clamp holds an iPad/smartphone/Nintendo Switch/Kindle in front of your face while a moveable arm means you can position it at the optimal viewing angle.
The arm, in turn, is connected to a wide base of four legs that stabilise the entire thing on your chest while you’re lying on your back.
And it’ll change the way you watch Netflix in bed for ever.
You can flip the base round if you wanted to use it as a tablet holder on a desk, but the real purpose is to have a screen floating effortlessly in front of your face.
The stand can extend to fit any tablet smaller than 13.5-inches – so even if you’re using the 12.9-inch iPad Pro you’ll be able to secure it.
When you’re not using it, it’ll fold up to be stored somewhere out of sight.
This is the second generation of the product and the Canadian startup behind it has made a few crucial improvements. The stand now has a rubberised finish (rather than the hard silver plastic of the first gen) and the hooks, neck and base have been re-engineered for stronger support.
There are also some attachments, such as an adaptor that clips in to hold a smartphone or a special hook around which you can wind a headphone cable.
The first Tstand was the product of a successful Kickstarter campaign that launched in 2015 and raised close to $200,000. Since then, around 10,000 units have been shipped out to customers worldwide.
‘Perfectionists that we are, we wanted to create something even more functional and comfortable,’ explained the team behind the stand in a press release.
‘Our customers yearn for the iPad experience perfected. It has taken a few years of testing and evaluating the product to determine how to make it better, but finally Tstand 2 has arrived.
‘We have countless stories from people with mobility issues, chronic pain, carpal tunnel, etc. who hadn’t been able to use a tablet comfortably before Tstand. We even have emails from neurodivergent individuals telling us about how Tstand has made it easier for them to interact with their devices. Tstand is for everyone, but even more so for individuals who have distinct challenges in holding and operating devices at the same time.’
The Tstand 2 that I was allowed to test out is live on Kickstarter now. The team say the retail price will be $97.99 (£70) but the early bird price on the crowdfunding sight sits at $59 (£42). So if this has at all piqued your interest it’s probably wise to move fast, although you’ll likely have to pay shipping costs as well.
Are there any downsides to the Tstand 2? Well, it would be nice if you could make the stand taller. The more horizontal your head, the closer to your neck you have to rest the base to make it comfortable.
Secondly, many of us are using wireless Bluetooth earbuds with our devices, so it would have been useful to have somewhere on the stand to affix the charging case while the buds are in your ears. As it is, you’ll have to put them down next to you and risk losing them down the side of the couch or under the folds of your blanket.
It’s true you could probably cobble something together yourself for much less money to solve the problem of holding a gadget up to your face.
But the elegant, simple effectiveness of the Tstand 2 has won me over. And at the moment I just can’t stop using it.